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Taranto

italy, harbor, city and town

TARANTO, ta-ran't5 (Latin, Tarention; Greek, Taras), southern Italy, a city in the province of Lecce, at the northern angle of the Gulf of Taranto, on a rocky tongue of land which separates the ancient inner harbor, a sort of lagoon called the Mare Piccolo (Little Sea), on the east, from the open sea on the west. The side has been made an island by a canal on the southeast, crossed by an iron swing-bridge, which admits the largest war vessels; another bridge at the northwest end also connects it with the mainland. Two islands, Saint Paolo, with a fort and a lighthouse, and Saint Pietro, guard the entrance to the outer harbor. The streets are very narrow, the three principal being the Strada Garibaldi along the Mare Piccolo, inhabited chiefly by fishermen; the Strada Maggiore, in the heart of the town, the main business thoroughfare; and the Strada Vittorio Emanuele, along the sea-front, a fine promenade. The 11th century cathedral, now wholly modernized, and the old castle are the chief objects of interest in the town proper. The Borgo Nuovo, a suburb on the mainland to the southeast, occupying the site of ancient Tarentum, contains a large arsenal and naval hospital and various harbor works have been constructed. The fortifications of the town

have been much strengthened since 1895. There is an export trade in oil, wine, licorice, fruit, etc.; and coals, grain, petroleum, etc., are imported. Tarentum was founded by Greeks in 707 s.c., and rapidly became the chief city of Magna Grwcia. It was noted for weav ing and for the purple dye obtained from a species of mussel. It reached its greatest pros perity under Archytas, the philosopher, in the 4th century B.C., after which luxury and vice caused it to decline. It was compelled to seek the assistance of Greek kings in its wars with the Lucanians and when attacked by the Romans it was assisted by Pyrrhus of Epirus. In 272 a.c., however, it was taken by the Romans and the conquest was repeated in 209, after the city had supported Hannibal in the Second Punic War. It passed later under Byzantine sway, was destroyed by the Saracens in 927 A.D. and later belonged to the Norman kingdom in South Italy. In 1861 it became included in the kingdom of Italy and the Italian government strongly fortified the place, establishing there a torpedo base. It is now one of the four im..rtant naval centres of Italy. Pop. about 56,i i I.